Saturday, July 28, 2012

August 2012 Face2Face Meeting

Join us for our August Face2Face Gathering, as we meet for brunch at the Bay Pony Inn in Lederach, PA on Sunday, August 26, 2012 from 11am-1pm. Reservations are REQUIRED due to the location; please RSVP by Wednesday, August 22nd.

RSVP via email or on our Facebook event page.

Visit the F2F Philadelphia Suburbs page for more info.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


This weekend, one of Peter's cousins in New England is getting married. We'd hoped to make the wedding, but decided that the late ceremony/reception combo would be too much for the kids and opted to send a card, with the hopes that we'd see the family soon.

My grandmother is taking my nephew to Florida to see my aunt. Initially, my mom was going to drive them there and back, but two of my great-aunts (my grandmother's sisters) wanted to go, so it was decided that they would go instead and my mom would do the drive home, giving my mom and unexpected 4 day weekend this weekend.

It's strange how things work out.

Monday, a woman I worked with fifteen years ago and had become friends with, was mothering her six children and loving her husband; Tuesday, she was gone, taken away by one of the bane's of existence that modern medicine has yet to erradicate: cancer. A smile, taken from the world. The sound of her laughter- which was infectious- silenced, replaced by the weeping of those who love and miss her.

When I'd first left Nashville, she and I had kept up, but as time had gone on, we lost touch. We'd see each other here and there when I'd visit, but life got in the way. It happens. You get busy, life moves on, and before you know it... it's over.

When my former boss and another former coworker emailed me with the news, I was shocked. At first, I didnt believe it. But a quick Google search confirmed their words. In spite of having not seen her in years, her laughter railed through my head and I found myself doubled over at my desk, in sobs. Gut-wrenching sobs.

It could be any of us.

It could be me. A mom, a wife... loving life, suddenly falling ill, and less than a year later, dying. The thought of leaving my children motherless, my husband a widower and raising them without me by his side. Even now, the words hit me so hard that I cant breathe.

I spent yesterday making travel arrangements. My in-laws were life savers and are watching the kids tomorrow while Peter is at work, while Sarah is more than I could ask for in a friend- a sister, really- agreeing to spend the night tonight and drive me to the airport at 4am tomorrow and then pick me up Saturday at 11pm, when I get back. My mom is picking me up when I arrive in Nashville, and I'm staying with my parents. The ability to make the funeral is only made possible because our travel plans fell through, on both counts.

Crazy how that works.

There's a part of me that has to smile. For D, family was so important. I can only imagine that she'd get a kick out of knowing that, in order to my my respects to her family, I'm getting an unexpected visit with mine. She'd like that I think. She'd laugh about it with her hearty, full-bodied laugh, and toss her head back, her short hair staying easily in place, and the smile would reach her eyes.

I hate flying; it's a fear deeply rooted in both the lack of control I have in the manner of transport but also in the uncertainty of living in the word. The only thing I hate more is leaving my family. I've told the kids that I'm leaving, and that I'll be gone for a few days. We went to the movies this morning, then to a playground before lunch and nap. A fun time. During cuddles, when I explained again that I wont be here when they wake up, Maya nodded sagely, repeating the words that I say to them whenever I leave for a run. "It's okay. Mamas always come back."

God, please, please dont make a liar out of me to my children. Please, please, let mothers always, always come back.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Never Alone

I hear this song on the radio periodically and, especially in light of part II of yesterday's post, it really makes me think of Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.

Never Alone
(Barlow Girl)

I waited for you today, but you didn't show. No, no, no. I need you today, so were did you go? You told me to call- said you'd be there- and though I havent seen you, are you still there?
I cried out with no reply and I can't feel you by my side, so I'll hold tight to what I know: you're here and I"m never alone.

And though I cannot see you and I can't explain why (there's) such a deep, deep reassurance you've placed in my life. We cannot separate because you're part of me and though you're invisible, I'll trust the unseen.

I cried out with no reply and I can't feel you by my side, so I'll hold tight to what I know: you're here and I"m never alone.

We cannot separate because you're part of me and though you're invisible, I'll trust the unseen

I cried out with no reply and I can't feel you by my side, so I'll hold tight to what I know: you're here and I"m never alone.

It's a religious song (I'm sure you can hear the overtones), but to me, it succinctly puts how I feel today and how I've felt in days gone by. It reminds me of them so much and in so many ways. Especially the lines "we cannot separate because you're part of me" and the refrain. They're hear. In the rain and the wind and the sun. I didnt lose them- that would be impossible. They're a part of me. They always were, they always will be. Just like Bobby and Maya. Our physical bodies may fade... We mail fail to make memories together on earth... My eyes may ache to see and my arms may yearn to hold... But my soul? My heart? They'll always be there. Forever.

(I don't care for the music video, but if you're game to hear the song- which is beautiful- you can lick here)

Monday, July 23, 2012


3 years deep. 3 years since I went into the hospital on bedrest with Bobby and Maya, the little guy's bag bulging beyond my stitched-shut-but-1cm-dilated-anyway cervix. 3 years since I was told by an unthoughtful nurse that "some babies just dont make it". (You think? Have you even bothered to read my chart? I kind of know that...) 3 years since I met the Resident who would take such wonderful care of me and even come back and do a round on me when I asked that the Resident whom I felt was partially responsible for Alexander's birth ended up as the Resident who took his place when he transferred to do his final stint before taking on his specialty (of gynecological oncology). 3 years since I met the two nurses who would cheer me up whe I was down, roll their eyes when the bambinos wouldnt behave on the monitor (and fight to find them!), and would ultimately rub my back and hold my hand when labor could couldnt be stopped (and were Bobby and Maya's first visitors in the NICU!).

3 years have passed since that day on July 23, 2009.  Which means that, in seven weeks, my babies turn 3. Amazing.

So much has changed. Maya's still irritating her brother and he's still pushing her back. :) These days, they're counting and singing and loving life.

And I'm reminded for the billionth, quadrillionth time how lucky I am. How very VERY lucky.

For never before in story or rhyme
Not even once upon a time
Has the world ever known a you my friend
And it never will- not ever again.

Those words, from The Night You Were Born, are read nightly in our house by Peter. (We each read a book at night.) I cant read them outloud, so whichever child chose that book, I always knew that Peter would read it. Well, I can read them, and I do if the kids ask for that book during the day, but it's tough.

That's a book I read to Nicholas and Sophia; I couldn't do it when I was pregnant with Alexander. (He got The Giving Tree, for which I could write a similar piece about as I am for TNYWB.

I can make it through without tears until the last few pages.

So whenever you wonder just how special you are... Please don't wonder, my loves.  You are so special... So very special.  And you wonder who loves you- how much and how far... To heaven and back, my sweets.  Just listen for geese honking high in the sky- they're singing a song to remember you by... Do you hear the sound of my weeping, down here on earth? The sound of a love that is so intense for you that it will never die? Or look at the polar bears, asleep at the zoo- it's because they've been dancing all night for you... Do you visit me at night when I sleep, the depth of the emotion I have flooding my senses and begging for the release that the touch of your tiny fingers might bring? Or drift off to sleep to te sound of the wind- listen closely, it's whispering your name again... The sweetest words off my tongue are your names, whispered, or even thought. If the moon stays up until morning one day, or a ladybug sits and decides to stay, or a little bird sits at your window a while... Or your mother hunkers down on her knees in a deep prayer of loss or clings to your youngest siblings in thanksgiving for your sacrifice and longing for your presence on earth with them or lights a candle with you in mind as she wipes back a tear from her cheek... It's because they're all hoping to see you smile.

For never before in story or rhyme- not even once upon a time- has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will. Not ever again. Not ever. Not in this life. For you were each special and wonderful and unique. A piece of me, a piece of your father. A piece of generations before and generations to com. A gift. A blessing. A loved child- my loved child. And the world, not ready for you, never got the chance to know you. They never heard your laughters (although I do, every time the wooden windchimes on the porch clink). It never saw your smiles (although I do, in every ray of sunshine). It never felt your kiss (although I do, every time the rain falls). It never heard you say "I love you" (although I do, every time your brother or sister say it with a special gleam in their eye). The world hs never known a you and it never will, not ever again. But I do. And I always will.


Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Not My Kid- It's Yours.

We finally have a break from the humidity and race-killing hot, humid weather. Thank you, St. Weatherman! Of course, periodic downpours means that going to an outdoor playground or the zoo or the park or any other outdoor activity is pretty much shot. So, what do the kids want to do on days like todays? Mr. B's of course! They love it (clearly, since their birthday party will be there) and, on most days, it's a pretty good place to be. There are days where it is a bit crowded and we only stay half hour or so, but usually, it's good for an hour or two of running the crazy out.

I should have known the moment I pulled into the parking lot and saw how full it was that today was NOT going to be one of those days. Really. I'm at this whole parenting kids thing for a couple of years... I should know better.

Yeah... Apparently not. Because I unload the kids (really- I didnt have a choice. There might have been a mutiny if I'd refused and the songs of laud for how awesome I am and how cool Mr. B's is would have turned into a war chant and the banshie cries of two spitfires ready to draw and quarter me). Off we go in the light drizzle and inside, where I still dont just grab my wits and leave.

Shoes off, kids in, all seems well. I settle onto a chair in the playzone and watch, as best I can with a billion other kids everywhere, my two scamper off. They're having fun. It's all good. After 15 minutes or so, Maya asks if she can play with the toys. I dont love this because it means I need to be in two places at once, but since there is a chair with a perfect view of the playzone, I say okay, and I sit outside the zone, in front of the large glass window, able to watch both kids.

It's noisy and busy; there's a birthday party (THANK YOU for the foresight to NOT book their party during open hours... THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU). A lot of kids everywhere and a lot of parents chatting over coffee. (Not all of them, some were watching their kids, but most? Not so much... This is kind of typical; on many days, I'm the only person in the playzone and if someone gets hurt or upset, I have to go wrangle a parent). A little girl- 10 maybe?- pulls Maya's hair because she doesnt want Maya playing at the kitchen. (HEY! It's a public play area- get over it!) I look around, but no parent is claiming the kid, so I comfort Maya and say in a loud enough voice that pulling hair isnt nice, that we have to respect all kids in a public play area, and that if she wants to play at the kitchen, she's welcome to. And, if her hair gets pulled again, then I'll take care of it. Point across. Maya chooses to play elsewhere.

Maybe 5 minutes goes by and I can see Bobby having fun. He runs across the bridge on level 3 and starts up this balloon/ball type stairway to level 4 (where the slide down is). As he starts up the stairway, these two boys (6-7 years old) start pushing him, like monkey in the middle. Only Bobby doesnt want to play. He says "Stop!" and then, when they dont, he signs "Stop". (At this point, I'm standing and ready to go inside and open the can of whoopass). They dont stop. One of the boys grabs Bobby by the arms (hard enough that his arms were red) and gets into his face, screaming at him. Well, the kid didnt know Bobby, who hauled back and pushed the kid down. Kid #2 grabs Bobby from behind and throws him into the mesh over the bridge/walkway, so that Bobby is overlooking the ground below. 

Did I mention that there were about 10 parents in the room?
Did I mention the two boys were twice Bobby's size (and age)?
Did I mention that can of whoop ass?

Yeah. I'd like to apologize, but I'm not sorry, so I'll save the "I'm sorry" for later. The sound that erupted from my throat- I dont know what it sounded like, but it was enough to silence the entire room. Like pin drop silence. And then, one of the dads says, "Uh-oh", in that whole "Damn, somebody's going to get it" voice.

The words that came out were something like "let him go" and, to his credit, the kid did. Bobby went up the stairs and to the slide. I proceeded to raise my finger and in the same voice instruct the two boys that they were to NEVER, EVER push or hit or grab a child that small. Ever. Again. The one kid ran, the other (the one in question) looked at me with his mouth gaping. Everyone else? Silence.

As I grabbed Bobby and Maya's shoes from the shoe bin, a mother walked in and, I'm guessing, she was the aforementioned child's mother. It's just a guess, but an educated one based on the way she looked at me. What made the moment even more of a "I dont want to kick your kid's ass- I want to kick yours" moment was that this is the mother who was standing behind me, talking to her friend, and not paying attention to her kid in the slightest of ways, and was droning on and on about her son getting expelled from summer school and she not understanding why because he's sooooo perfect and sweet and blahblahblah. You're kidding, right? Expelled from freaking summer school? That monster up there who was trying to put the beatdown on a kid half his size and age? I dont believe it!

Rather than get into a fight (because really, who is that going to help), I returned her stare, grabbed my kids and we left, our dignity still in place.  We went to a local restaraunt, where the kids ate apple slices and drank juice, and played on their indoor equipment while I tried to relax (and not eat the entire menu of food I dont like in the first place).

I'm not pro-fighting. I have an Irish temper and I taught TaeKwonDo for several years; I can fight. But I dont like to. I think that it takes the bigger person (and smarter one) to diffuse a situation and walk away. But, that being said, when someone gets physical with you and you cant diffuse it, then you defend yourself (and cause the least amount of damage you can), and then get on with your life.

That's way easier when you dont have kids that you feel  mamabear instict to protect. I wanted to go up and knock some sense into those two kids. I wanted to take the mom out to the parkinglot and give her a piece of me to take home with her because she's raising a bully.

But I didnt. The voice was enough, and I'm hoping that voice stays with those two enough to realize you dont pick on others (and gives the mom some sort of wake up that her son needs help and parenting,and that bringing your kid to a playground isnt your way of getting a coffee outting).

There's a part of me who wanted to ascertain for sure who the parents of those boys were so that we could have a conversation, but the rational part of me knew that if it did escalate into a fight, that my kids (and every other kid there) would see just another example of adults who cant handle themselves, and, frankly, it just wasnt worth it to me.

Sometimes walking away is the better part of valor.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tea and Sympathy

Fare thee well... Trade in all our words for tea and sympathy... Wonder why we tried, for things that could never be... Play our hearts lament, like an unrehearsed symphony.  Not intend to leave this castle full of empty rooms... Our love the captive in the tower never rescued... And all the victory songs seem to be playing out of tune.

But it's not the way that it has to be- Don't trade our love for tea and sympathy. 'Cause it's not the way that it has to be...

You begin and all your words fall to the floor and break like china cups, and the waitress grabs a broom and tries to sweep them up. I reach for my tea and slowly drink in.

'Cause it's not the way that it has to be- Don't trade our love for tea and sympathy. 'Cause it's not the way that it has to be...

So fare thee well: words the bag of leaves that fill my head. I could taste the bitterness and call the waitress instead-she holds the answer: smiles and asks one teaspoon or two

'Cause it's not the way that it has to be- Don't trade our love for tea and sympathy. 'Cause it's not the way that it has to be...

("Tea and Sympathy"; Jars of Clay)

A few weeks ago, my dad asked me if I had any baby gear that I was up for getting rid of. A coworker is expecting her first child and was interested. I talked to Peter to make sure he was okay with it, then exchanged emails with the woman. She and her husband came by last week and picked up some things.

My yoga studio looked like a consignment store. A changing table over here, a stroller over there. Baby stuff. Lots of it. Peter and I had taken stuff from our storage area and placed it out, keeping back a few of the special things (like his Yaya's rocking chair and the antique creche) but, for the most part, it was like a second hand BabiesRUs downstairs. The couple came, picked out some things, and, with a smile, they loaded it up and were on their way.

I remember giving away my maternity clothes when Bobby and Maya were still in their infant seats. A woman needed them, I didnt, and so they were gone. I wont lie and say there wasnt a pain of "Damn, I'll never wear these again", but I saved the one shirt that I'd kept from all my pregnancies and let the rest go.

Then, there was the selling of the nursery furniture.  Again... it was tough, but there was another couple, so happy and excited for their first... It was the right thing.

I knew this would hurt. I did. But I also knew that I needed to let the things go. A storage area full of high chairs and potties and changing tables and pack and plays and all the other stuff I had down there... It wasnt being used and it wasnt helping anyone. And now it is, so it's okay.

But damn, did it sting. It wasnt the giving away of stuff- it's just stuff. I could always borrow, beg, or buy if I needed it. 

It was the idea of it all. The giving away of the dream of another child. The giving away of the innocence of preparing for that first baby  (or any baby). We joke that I'll fall pregnant and have a perfect pregnancy now that some of the basics are gone... once we put the unassembled crib (which is still in our bedroom) in the storage area... since I've lost so much weight... now that I have the stitch.  But, since December, *TMI ALERT* we've expressed our love as freely as teenagers (and without the much employed contraception) and I'm not pregnant, nor have I been these last 8 months post TAC. And the last time I did have the honor, I miscarried so early that, had I not felt pregnant and too a test a few days after my missed period, I wouldnt have even known. As I told the lovely stranger recently at the indoor playground who commented on how cute the kids were and asked when I'd have another, it's pretty clear I dont do pregnancy well.

I'm okay with that.

Well, I'm telling myself that.

So, it must be true- Right?

I've joked with Peter that this is the Year of Selfishness since I have the MCM (in, gulp, less than 3 monhs) and that he'd better not touch me close to ovulation (less he prove that the Universe is a vindictive woman with a nasty sense of humor who would let me get pregnant on the cusp of running 26 miles). Of course, it's been a joke. I could always defer the race ;).  (In seriousness, abstaining for the reason of preventing/delaying pregnancy for us would be tantamount to contraception; I realize this isnt everyone's view or a mainstream one, but it is our feeling.)

Like I said, no pregnancy. A nice, clockwork period... Every 28-32 days.  Pretty awesome in a 'my-body-never-worked' sort of way. Not that it does work right (clearly) but... Still. Something is something.

On that note, we joked that from October 29th (day after MCM) through December 31, 2013 would be the Year of  Sex. No, we dont need that official. But, it was our joke that we'd not give a damn about the time of the month and hey, we might be one of those couples- you've heard of the ones. You know, the ones who have sex and get pregnant? (I swear- they are NOT a myth! I've seen them!) It wasnt a trying-to-conceive year so much as it was me needing a timeframe to get rid of the baby items in storage. I mean, really, how long should you keep an infant seat? When your toddler are now preschoolers who are in booster seats (as I have no doubt, at least Bobby, will be the case come 12/31/13) and there are no newborns in the house?  Yeah... that seemed like a good time.

Plus, It's not like I'd be getting any younger. Seriously.

So, that was the line in the sand for getting rid of baby clothes and stuff. I needed to know that, one day, there wouldnt be more than the few items I hope to pass down lingering... That there wouldnt be boxes of clothes or baby bottles... That the nursery linens and baby bed wouldnt live there, waiting for a baby who was never coming home, indefintely.

We also didnt want to get on the TTC Train. I dont want to be crazy. We know fertility treaments are no longer in the cards for us; I dont want to be so focused on a dream that I lose sight of our life.

It's a good life.

As Sarah said on one of our runs, another baby would be lovely, but it's just as lovely to watch Bobby and Maya grow up and be able to do those things with them that I wouldnt necessarily be able to do with a newborn in tow. I can be the mom volunteer who goes on fieldtrips without worry. I can be the den mom or the scout mom or whatever, and devote myself to it. I can be active on Home and School, volunteer at the school library, run a story time, assistant coach the CYO Cross Country team (and heaven only knows what other sports these two will have me in!) without breastfeeding, diaper changing, nap times, or new potty training.  Not that those other things are impossible- they certainly arent!- but it's easier to run around after Bobby and Maya without another child. That's just a truth of numbers.

It still stings... That knowledge that, try as I might, I cant succeed in the way that I want in the one thing that feels like it should be basic.

But I'm coming to term with it. I have to. I had my tears when we packed back the remaining baby items the couple didnt need and discussed Craigslisting them. I had my sympathy with my infertile pals, especially M's godmother, who gets me in a certain way when it comes to being veryVERY grateful for the gifts are kids are but still pissed off at the shitty hand Mother Nature deal us. Andat this point in my life, I'm having my tea. Proverbial as well as the literal kind. ;)  My delicious, Scottish tea... Black... Hot... A gift from the godparents-to-be of any child we do have/adopt in the future who are such dear friends.  It's good tea. Reminds me of how loved we are for all we are and all we're not.

Funny how a cup of tea can tell you the one thing that you need to hear and struggle with.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Way... Part II

Per Amelia's request!

I'll give you two versions of the cake. The 100% homemade and the cheat. :)

The cheat:
A box of Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate Cake. Mix both packets with:
2 eggs plus 1 egg white
1/3c apple sauce
1/4c oil
1/4c Greek yogurt
1c water
1/3c chocolate milk
Bake in pans according to directions (350 for 25-30 minutes)

The homemade... (It's my basic butter cake with the chocolate addition.)
Basic Butter Cake:
Mix & Set Aside: 2c A.P. flour, 1tbsp baking powder, 1tsp salt
Cream: 1/2c softened butter, 4oz. applesauce (a snack size cup)
Slowly beat in: 2/3c white sugar, 1/2c brown sugar
Add in, one at a time, and mix well: 6oz plain Greek yogurt, 1tbsp vanilla, 2 eggs + 1 egg white, 1/6c
almond milk (or chocolate milk for the chocolate cake version)
Add in the flour mixture slowly then beat on medium-high for 2 minutes
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes (however your oven works) until done. Makes two 9” rounds.
Chocolate Cake: Melt 7oz dark chocolate with 2 tbsp (of the 8 you will use for the recipe) butter. Add to the creamed butter (before the sugar) and then follow the above recipe.

For the frosting (it's a take on my basic buttercream)
Basic Buttercream:
Beat 1c of softened butter until creamy. Add 1tsp vanilla and 1/6c almond milk (or regular milk). Slowly cream with 3c powdered sugar.
Chocolate: Melt 3.5oz chocolate with 1tbsp butter. Cream rest of the 1 cup of butter with tsp vanilla. Add the melted chocolate, then cream with 3c powdered sugar.
For the Decadent cake, double the chocolate/butter melting (7oz choc and 2tbsp butter).

Cool the cakes completely.

Ice the top of one layer then slather on raspberry preserves (I prefer French style or to make my own). Top with the second cake. Frost the sides and top.  Put remaining frosting in a ziplock and cut off a tip.  Pipe frosting around the edge,building a ledge around the cake. Within the ledge, lather on 1/4-1/2 cup of raspberry preserves. Chill.

Bring to room temp before serving and toss fresh raspberries on when you serve.

Keep chilled.

(And, like I said, I dont even want to GUESS at the calories!)

The Way...

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
-Fanny Fern

Way back when, this was a piece of advice that a woman gave her daughter-in-law... What Peter's mom must have known when she said those words was that I not only love to cook but am happy to spend my days continuing to work myself into her son's heart. :)  On today's dinner menu? Dark Chocolate Raspberry Decadence Cake (I'm not even going to guestimate the calories in a sliver of that bad boy... It's petty deadly. It's also Peter's favorite dessert, well, one of them!) To go with dinner is a dish he's mentioned he'd love for me to make: biryani. Lamb biryani to be exact.  Using lamb from a local farm, I've modified everyone's favorite, potty mouthed chef, Gordon Ramsay's chicken biryani recipe (which is found in his cookbook Great Escape), and thought I'd share it... You know, just in case you have a heart (that loves Indian food) that you're trying to weasel into! ;) I'll be serving ours with samosas and garlic naan tonight...

Lamb Biryani

Mix the following together and marinate for several hours:
1lb lamb, diced into 1 inch pieces
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1tsp chili powder
1tsp tumeric
1tsp garam masala
1.5tsp minced ginger
1tbsp minced garlic

Heat 1tbsp olive oil and 1tbsp butter over medium heat, and toss in 2 medium onions, chopped, cooking for 8-10 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Add 1tbsp butter, 1 cinnamon stick, 6 whole cloves, and 3 cardamom pods, sauteeing for 30 seconds and until aromatic. Add 1.5tsp minced ginger and 1tbsp minced garlic, and cook for another minute. Add the lamb mixture (with the marinade) and cook for 10-12 more minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat while you prepare the rice.

For the rice, heat 2tbsp butter, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise pod, and 4 cardamom pods in a large pan. Cook for 30 seconds, until the spices become aromatic. Add 300g basmati rice, rinsed and drained (approx 1.5 cups) and 85g raisins, stirring the rice and raisins in the butter for one minute. Add 375ml water (about 1.5 cups or 375 grams) and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then gently simmer and cover, cooking for 10 minutes.  Add the lamb and sauce, then recover and simmer for 5 more minutes. Leaving the lid in place, remove from heat and stand for 5 minutes. Prior to serving, thoroughly mix the rice and chicken, and garnsh with coriander leaves (optional).

(4 servings: 550 calories each)

Monday, July 16, 2012

T-3, 2, 1

In three months, I'm running the MCM. Holy goodness... I'm going to run 26.2 miles... alongside Marines... and real runners.  I'm terrified.  I've done 18 miles so far for my longest run; I know I will make the distance but damn am I still nervous!!!  I have yet to make my D.C. plans; I need to find a place to spend the weekend.  My plan (so far) is to take the train into DC, stay overnight, run the next day, stay another night (because, really, I'm not sure I can do that distance and get on a train!), then leave early the next morning.  I should finalize my travel plans... I really should...

Bobby and Maya turn three and start preschool.  My stomach just did another round of flips. We've decided on their birthday party. We're reserving the playyard at Mr. B's that they love so much. It's actually quite cost efficient, and we'll do pizza, fruit/veggies, and cupcakes. I plan on making chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and topping them in different colored buttercream. Their party is a Saturday evening (6:30-8:30), so I can make the cupcakes that morning. My dad offered to do face painting. Should be fun! I ordered the invites, and cant wait for them to come in so that I can mail them out!

I think they'll have a blast. We're reserving the cafe area/play area, so it will just be our friends/family, so I'm hoping the adults will have fun too, since it is an enclosed area where the kids can safely play and the adults can supervise while hanging out.  We'll see.

And then there's school... September 11th is their start day.  They will be freshly 3 years old and going off into the wide world without me. From the day they start walking, they head in the opposite direction, and this is sort of the culmination of that I suppose. It's only 2 mornings a week, but my heart already aches. I hope they like it and have fun. I hope that my tears are greater than theirs (I wont be able to handle it if they are miserable and crying). I worry especially for Bobby, since he tends to want me more than Maya at this point, and I worry for her because she will be a mess if he is upset and she cant calmn him. I keep just hoping for the best.  We still have 8 weeks or so... They'll be fine... They'll be fine... They'll be fine...

VACATION!!  Normally, we are solid autumn vacationers, but since the kids will be in school, we are going in August. CANT WAIT. We're going to VA with my in-laws for a lovely week away from it all. The kids had a blast last year and I'm pretty darn excited to go back, to take them to the childrens museum again, and to do all the fun things they seem to love. They'll be almost a year older and I'm sure they'll love the waterpark and hiking even more than before.

I have a confession to make... I love The Mentalist. I've been DVRing it and watching episodes from the first seasons during naptime. I've seen all of season 1 and am in the middle of season 2. Not sure what it is... It's like a cross between Psych and Law & Order. I kind of dig that. :) Definitely not child appropriate though.

Peter and I are planning a date around The Dark Knight Rises. I admit it. I kind of like Batman. Especially Christian Bale's Batman. I'm not too much for action heros, but there's always been something about the Dark Knight that gets under my skin (in a good way). So, lunch, movie, and coffee after to chat about it. Now to beg my MIL to sit the kids for the afternoon... ;) We arent usually movie theater folks, but the first two were quite awesome on the big screen, so this will be our guilty pleasure. :)

I love making apple pies with apples from my own trees... I love making pear and peach cobblers from the fruit that drops off our backyard trees... This whole grow-your-own thing is pretty nice. :)  (I think Peter quite enjoys this too!)  Next on the agenda? Dark Chocolate Raspberry Decadence Cake, made with locally picked raspberries and preserves from our favorite orchard! YUM!  There's a local Raspberry Bramble wine we'll open with it too... YUM YUM!

On that note... We're off to Tabora's local (new!) store and to the farm store down the way to get eggs!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I've blogged before about how Peter and I are more of a (so thought) traditional couple, in that I'm a homemaking domestic SAHM and he's the breadwinning head-of-household. This isnt prose about being a submissive wife or anything else; rather, it's just a story. A sweet story, in my opinion.

When I go to Mass, I cover my head with a mantilla or chapel veil. Normally, we go to the Vigil but we went to the 10am this morning instead. It's busier, but the homily was lovely and was what I especially needed to hear. During the Holy/Sanctus, Bobby decided he wanted a mommy-snuggle (I was already holding Maya) so he lunged from Peter's arms into mine. And proceeded to be the cutest little guy in the building. He would pat my head and smooth the mantilla, then he lifted it and touched our foreheads together with the word "Love". Adorable... Of course, as we began to kneel for the Eucharistic prayers, he pulled it off and dropped it behind our pew! (We were the last pew of the front, so there is a walkway between our pew and the first of the second set.)

I discretely walk around and grab the mantilla, repositioning it and continuing to pray. Then, he grabs it again; I'm not going to get in the middle of a mantilla war, so I've resigned to just let it go until after the "Amen" when I can grab it back. It bothers me, but I can suck it up. (I dont cover when I cantor, so it isnt as though I cant get through a Mass without it). But, just as I was about to take that deep breath and let my own feelings about being uncovered drift away, I felt a warm presence on my head.

It was Peter's hand.

A gentle, loving hand, placed with care on top of my head where the mantilla would have rested had our son not decided the black lace looked better on him (and then the pew).

It was sweet. It was symbolic. It was a caring thought done without hesitation. He didnt do it because being uncovered is an automatic go-to-hell free card or because he felt uncomfortable that I wasnt covered, but because he knew that, internally, it bothers me. I dont even know if he consciously debated it, the movement was so seamless.

It made me think of a lot of times when he's covered me, not always in a physical sense. And that small action that lasted only a few moments ignited a warmth that filled my heart with love and, if I'm honest, a deep respect for this man that I've spent the last fourteen years of my life with.

On a similar note, this song reminds me of Peter, too. (Although a fair amount of songs do, LOL...)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Borrowed Time

In the stillness of the house, the kettle on the stove gives a gentle whisper to let me know that the water is boiled and I pour a measured amount into my handleless, hand-potted mug, the Brodie's tea bag rising to the surface and the smell of black, Scottsh breakfast tea filling my nostrils. As I settle into the couch- Peter's couch, actually, since it is by the window- a hidden sun starts to peek in over the trees and gently illuminate the living room, which is still covered with toys from last night's play. I've been up since 4:30am (well, I've been up since 3:40, but I didnt get out of bed until 4:30). I've trained a new runner for a little over a mile and have then done 2 miles on the track at the local Catholic high school. I'm back home, having checked email and FB and blogs, and I finally am sitting down to write.

And this is what I've come up with. Kind of sad, I suppose, especially since I havent written too much here in what seems like forever.

It isnt that I dont want to write- I do. I often think "I need to blog that!" but then something ges in the way, something comes up, and the moment passes. Part of me thinks that I'll have time to go back, but the other part of me knows that my life doesnt have a rewind button. I even thought of dedicating some time each day/each week to blogging, but then it would feel like work, and that's not what this space ever was.

In the simplest of terms, we are all fine. Really well, actually. Bobby and Maya are 2 months out (less actually) from the start of preschool and, in 2 months exactly, they turn 3 years old. Three years... Where did the time go? I'm in the throws of figuring out what to do for their birthday party. I dont think I want it at the house this year... Rent a park pavillian? (the closest one only has a portapotty... not so cool for potty training) Rent out their favorite indoor playground? (the cost is great, but the only private hours are 6:30-8:30pm) Call it a day and do nothing? No, not that...

They love playing outside (in spite of the last week where we had a high of 102 that felt like hell with a side of Sacramento) and the pool (a 4 foot by 8 foot blow up) is their favorite hang out, coming in just ahead of the water tables we have on the back deck. They both love to help me cook, and are beginning to get into the swing of helping clean.

Maya is a mini-me, for better and for worse. The child has an attitude that would be better suited on a 16 year old (actually, better suited for when she's married and off my hands or in the convent and dealing with (other) trouble making nuns), but she's sweet as pie. Must be split personality... or maybe it's proof that when your mother says "May you have one just like you", that is indeed a curse and will come true (thank God- I've thought it and cant wait to say it). She's a helper; loves to help cook, clean, and tell folks- especially her brother- what to do. Knows the start of the Sanctus at Mass; loves to kneel and genuflect, kiss the statue of the Virgin Mary, and gve the Peace. She'll bring a spoon over, climb up in my lap, and pilfer my tea (regardless of how hot or strong it is). She's growing into a beautiful child, and her vocabulary is insane. She's started sounding out words and is beginning the early stages of reading. Ever the Miss Independent, she loves to do things herself.

Bobby is a sweet cuddlemuffin. As Sarah says, he'll be the towering NFL player who spends his free time visiting kids in hospitals and the elderly in nursing homes. He's just sweet to his core. He will fling his arms around me and kiss me until I fall over, and is always up for a hug. When his feelings are hurt, his entire face falls and his bottom lip quivers. (Can you tell that I melt? I'm sure he'll use this against me at some point, but right now, he's still fairly innocent.) His speech is improving dramatically. At the suggestion of his speech therapist, he also sees an occupational therapist once a week to help work on his aversion to playing with others. (Because he couldnt really communicate well, he never took to games like throwing the ball to another, ring around the rosie, etc. He likes to play with others and will share, but the idea of interaction that required verbal communication wasnt a preference). We've seen an improvement in the month since the OT has started, and Bobby will now throw and kick balls with other, take part in the little 'dance parties' we do to nursery rhymes, and do group play more easily. His verbal and signing skills are taking off, and he loves to chit chat, especially after naptime or when he wakes in the morning. Some of my favorite solo moments are when he just wakes and he climbs into my lap for snuggles, kisses, and telling me all about his dreams. Like Maya, he needs to go high five the Blessed Mother statue and singing at Mass is his favorite (as, for whatever reason, is 'helping' pray the Eucharistic prayer, in spite of being told that the priest is doing fine on his own :) I'm glad our parish is family friendly.)

All in all, they are good kids. Potty training is well. Sleeping is well. Eating is well. They start our parish school at the start of September; we'll go on vacation in August (since we didnt want to pull them during our normal, fall vacation time).

Peter is lovely. Enjoys work. Cant wait until his transfer to the closer site (his lab wont be moving until early 2013 at this point, but we're counting down!). He hasnt been able to get on his bike as much as I'm sure he'd like. As usual, he's a great husband, father, and provider; he's my calm in whatever storms arise. I love him. He loves me. That sums it up, I think! :) He's a romantic (I realize the words 'romantic' and 'scientist' may seem at odds, but he is). He's one of those guys who brings home flowers just because and I think the idea of buying a piece of jewelry without meaning would offend something at his core. Which is why, although I dont have a lot of it, the pieces I have are priceless and have some story behind them. For my birthday/anniversary this year, he designed and had the local jeweler craft a choker necklace for me, using 9 alexandrite stones. It's simple enough that I wear it every day, yet elegant enough that I can dress it up for something out of the ordinary. Pretty perfect if you ask me.

I'm good. Still me. :) Truth be told, I dont spend nearly as much time on my computer as I used to and, when I am on, I'm not on the internet much (except to map out runs). And run I do. I did an 18 miler on a nasty, high humidity day last Sunday, and I'm up for 19 this weekend (please, God of running, NO HUMIDITY, no heat, and no rain. PLEASE. Let's pretend it's fall... or a morning like this morning!). I train a new runner three times a week, and may pick up running with two other women during other mornings/evenings- we shall see. I still have MHB and the studio up, so with being a full time SAHM, housewife, and homemaker, it feels like the only real free time I have is between 9:30pm and 4:30am, when I'm in bed. (And since I dont always go to sleep at 9:30, that isnt even a true statement!)

I'm going to the assistant coaching a cross country team for CYO. That's pretty exciting. Practice is twice a week, with meets on Sundays, up until the Marine Corps Marathon. (I'll actually miss the final meet because of the MCM). I'm nervous, but really psyched too. I've been emailing with the coach, who is local and a marathoner, and I'm looking foward to working with the team. It's kids ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, so this should be interesting!

I write a lot more than I used to (just not here, LOL). The piece I sold is through the first round of edits on my end (thank goodness!) and I have a second piece currently under consideration, which is exciting. But it means that I spend naptime having an affair with MS Word. Since naptime is really my only 'free time' to work, I check email and read blogs/FB sporadically when I can steal a moment (or when my brain refuses to think clearly). Hence, the lack of actual blogging.

But I am here... I still read (even though I dont comment as much as I did) and I still *want* to blog, and I know I will once the fall hits and I have a bit more time to just breathe.

There's also this feeling that I've said all there is. I know that isnt true; there will always be something new. But I'm happy. I'm happy in my marriage, in my life. I've finally reached a place of understanding were I get that being happy doesnt mean a life without sad days or arguments or 'what if' moments. That it is more than that. It's even more than looking back and saying "I'd do it all again" (which I would, in a heartbeat). I dont know exactly *what* it is, but I know that I have it. Maybe I had it all along and just couldnt see it- I dont know. But I see it now.

I heard a song on the radio that said "I want to live like there's no tomorrow, love like I'm on borrowed time." It really resonated with me. If I knew that I would die tonight in my sleep... that I'd never wake up tomorrow... What would I do differently tomorrow? Would I hold my kids tighter? Kiss my husband longer? Linger over whatever were doing a bit more? Laugh a little louder? Love a bit harder?

Would I regret that last day? Those last moments?

More than anything, I dont want to. I want to breathe easy. I want to know that each day was made the most of. I fail- dont get me wrong. I waste my fair seconds and I take a good bit for granted. But I'm really trying to focus on what is important.

And, somehow in that, I feel like I've found (or realized) happy.

Well, I'd better go... It's almost 7:30am and I hear my little guy climbing out of bed for some morning snuggles with his stinky, fresh-from-a-run mama on the couch... ;)